Difference Wiki

Term vs. Trimester: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
A term is a set period or duration, while a trimester is specifically a period of three months, often used in academic or pregnancy contexts.

Key Differences

The word "term" is a general concept used to describe a fixed or limited period during which certain events occur or conditions apply, often used in academic, legal, and various other contexts. A "trimester," however, is a specific type of term that refers to a period of three months, commonly used in academic schedules and to describe the three phases of pregnancy. While "term" can be used to signify any length of time that has a beginning and an end, "trimester" is explicitly three months long.
In academic settings, a "term" can vary in length depending on the institution; it might last a few weeks in the case of a summer term or several months for a semester or quarter. A "trimester," in this context, typically divides the academic year into three equal parts, used by some schools to structure the academic calendar. While both "term" and "trimester" are used within educational frameworks, "term" has broader applications, whereas "trimester" is more specific in duration and usage.
When discussing durations, "term" is a flexible word that could reference a wide range of timeframes, from a political term of office to the time a contract is in effect. A "trimester" is used more narrowly, most often in reference to the three distinct three-month periods of gestation in pregnancy or in some educational institutions that divide the year into three parts. This precision in the case of "trimester" makes it less versatile than "term," which can be adapted to many contexts.
From a linguistic perspective, "term" is a word with multiple meanings and can be used in various ways; it is not limited to time but can also refer to terminology or phrases specific to a field or subject. "Trimester," on the other hand, is a compound word, stemming from Latin roots that literally mean "three months," and thus its meaning is not as broad and is always related to a division of time into three-month periods.
The usage of "term" can be seen in various phrases and idioms, reflecting its versatility and commonality in the English language, such as "serving a prison term" or "coming to terms with something." "Trimester" does not share this linguistic flexibility and is seldom found outside its specific reference to a three-month period, which limits its use in idiomatic expressions. In essence, while "term" has a breadth of application, "trimester" provides a specificity that is useful in the right contexts but does not extend beyond its defined scope.

Comparison Chart


A set period or duration
A specific period of three months


Varies (education, legal, etc.)
Typically education and pregnancy


Fixed at three months


Broad, multiple contexts
Specific, mainly academic and gestational

Non-Temporal Meaning

Yes, as in word or expression
No, solely refers to a time period

Term and Trimester Definitions


A word or phrase used in relation to a specific field.
Plaintiff is a legal term.


A period of three months, especially as a division of the duration of pregnancy.
She's in her first trimester of pregnancy.


A fixed or limited period for which something lasts.
His term of office is four years.


A third of a period or series.
The project's completion is scheduled by the last trimester.


The conditions under which an action may be carried out.
She agreed to the terms of the contract.


One of the three terms into which the academic year is divided in some universities and schools.
Final exams are at the end of each trimester.


A period of time to which limits have been set.
The academic year is divided into three terms.


A stage or phase in a three-part process.
The second trimester is often when mothers feel most energetic.


The end of a period of pregnancy.
She's nearing full term with her pregnancy.


The three-monthly division used to describe specific developments or stages.
The business reviews its goals every trimester.


A limited or established period of time that something is supposed to last, as a school or court session, tenure in public office, or a prison sentence.


A period or term of three months.


A point in time at which something ends; termination
An apprenticeship nearing its term.


One of three terms into which an academic year is divided in some universities and colleges.


Can term refer to something other than time?

Yes, term can also mean a word, phrase, or condition.

Is trimester used outside of pregnancy or education?

It's mostly used within those two contexts.

How many terms are in a typical academic year?

There can be two to four terms in an academic year, depending on the institution.

How many trimesters are there in a full-term pregnancy?

A full-term pregnancy is divided into three trimesters.

Can a contract have terms?

Yes, a contract can specify terms that outline agreement details.

How long is a trimester in school?

In school, a trimester typically lasts for about three months.

What is a school term?

A school term is a division of the academic year during which classes are held.

What is meant by term limits?

Term limits are the maximum periods someone can serve in a particular elected office.

What is a fixed-term employment contract?

A fixed-term employment contract has a set end date.

How does a semester differ from a term?

A semester is a type of term but specifically refers to half of an academic year.

What happens in the first trimester of pregnancy?

The first trimester of pregnancy involves the initial development of the fetus.

Is trimester a global academic term?

The use of trimester in academics can vary globally.

What are trimester grades?

Trimester grades are academic evaluations given at the end of a trimester.

What does "term" mean in relation to pregnancy?

In pregnancy, term refers to the period from conception to birth.

Can trimester be used to describe fiscal quarters?

No, fiscal quarters are not typically referred to as trimesters.

How long is a full term for pregnancy?

A full term for pregnancy is about 40 weeks.

When does a trimester begin in the academic year?

A trimester begins based on the academic calendar, which varies by institution.

Do all universities use the trimester system?

No, not all universities use the trimester system; some use semesters or quarters.

Are the academic terms the same length as trimesters?

Academic terms can vary in length, but trimesters are consistently three months.

How are trimesters calculated during pregnancy?

Trimesters are calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons